Rodolfo Santana Wins the 2013 Fred T. Goetting, Jr.
Memorial Endowed Presidential Fellowship
Rodolfo Santana is this year's recipient of the Fred T. Goetting, Jr.
Memorial Endowed Presidential Fellowship. This award recognizes a
student for outstanding service to the Department of Astronomy, usually
for excellence in teaching.
Rodolfo Santana has been a TA for both Dan Jaffe and Pawan Kumar. He has
a great combination of having a calm demeanor while being totally
enthusiastic about the subject matter. He led weekly homework help
sessions, once a month test reviews, and put together excellent quizzes
and homeworks which were indispensable tools for the students. His
evaluation comments indicate that the students really appreciated his
teaching abilities and found that he was very good at explaining
Rodolfo is the graduate student rep this year, and has worked on a
number of graduate student issues, such as travel funding and changes
to the grad student curriculum. He also solicited student feedback
regarding teaching assignments for signature and other courses to help
the GSEC redraft a new TA policy which will go into effect this spring.
JJ Hermes wins the 2013 David Benfield Memorial Fellowship in Astronomy
JJ Hermes has been awarded the 2013 David
Benfield Memorial Fellowship in Astronomy, which recognizes outstanding research by a
senior graduate. JJ has co-authored 14 refereed publications since 2010, with 8 papers and
counting already in 2012. 6 of his refereed papers are as first author.
His discoveries include three entirely new classes of objects and two new
phenomena. Much of his recent work
revolves around the Extremely Low Mass (ELM) white dwarf stars and the binary
systems that contain them. This includes finding ellipsoidal variations,
from tidally distorted white dwarf stars, on timescales shorter than an
hour, and in several systems, measurements of relativistic beaming.
Tim Weinzirl Wins AAS Rodger Doxsey Travel Prize
Tim Weinzirl has been awarded a Rodger Doxsey Travel Prize for the AAS's 221st meeting.
Tim was one of only 10 selected from all dissertations submitted nationally for the conference.
His dissertation presentation, "Structure, Activity, and Assembly History of Massive Galaxies Out
to z~3 and Across Diverse Environments," will be highlighted in the meeting program book
and in other meeting-related materials. Tim is the first graduate student at
UT Austin to win the honor. For more on this award, please visit
Graduate Students Win Major Fellowships
Taylor Chonis, Marshall Johnson
& Chalence Safranek-Shrader
NSF Graduate Research Fellowship
Supervisor: Gary Hill
Development of a New Low Resolution Spectrograph for the Hobby-Eberly
Telescope: Investigating the Nature of Lyman-Alpha Emitting Galaxies in
the Hobby-Eberly Telescope Dark Energy Experiment Survey
NASA Earth and Space Science Fellowship
Supervisor: William Cochran
Investigating Exoplanetary Transits with Doppler Tomography-Rossiter
NASA Earth and Space Science Fellowship
Supervisors: Milos Milosavljevic & Volker Bromm
Metal Enriched Star Formation in the First Galaxies and Observational
Implications for JWST.
Guillermo Blanc Wins 2012 Outstanding Dissertation Award
Guillermo Blanc has won the 2012 Outstanding Dissertation Award from University Co-op and the Graduate School. The award
recognizes exceptional work by doctoral students at the highest levels of scholarship, research, and writing, and is given to three
doctoral candidates campus wide. Guillermo received his PhD in 2011, and is now the Carnegie Fellow at the Carnegie
Institutes of Washington. His dissertation is entitled "Studying Star Formation at Low and High Redshift with Integral Field Spectroscopy".
Students Attend 2012 SPIE: Astronomical Telescopes & Instrumentation
Taylor Chonis attended the 2012 SPIE: Astronomical Telescopes & Instrumentation in Amsterdam, the premier
conference for new and updated technologies for the
observational astronomical sciences. Taylor presented two papers, the first on
prototype VPH diffraction gratings for VIRUS, and the plan for testing
more than 150 gratings for the instrument. The second paper
was on LRS2-B, a new facility-class low resolution spectrograph for the
Hobby-Eberly Telescope. Michael Gully-Santiago presented an invited talk "Near infrared metrology
of high-performance silicon immersion gratings". Recent graduates Dr. Casey Dean and Dr. Jeremy Murphy
also attended the international conference.
Manos Chatzopoulos Wins William Powers, Jr. Fellowship
Manos Chatzopoulos has been awarded the prestigious William Powers, Jr.
Graduate Dissertation Fellowship by The University of Texas at Austin Graduate School. One of the school's most competitive awards,
students are chosen from across all university departments. Manos has published five papers in The Astrophysical Journal, four as lead author.
He currently works on large-scale multidimensional numerical models of supernovae
with Professor Craig Wheeler. Manos is a former recipient of the Board of Visitors
Graduate Student Second Year Research Defense Award, the Frank N. Edmonds, Jr. Memorial Fellowship in Astronomy, the David Alan
Benfield Memorial Fellowship in Astronomy, and the University-wide Co-op Award for Outstanding Masters Thesis.
Paul Robertson Wins Continuing Fellowship
Paul Robertston is the winner of the
Astronomy Continuing Fellowship for the 2012/2013 academic year. The selection is made by faculty vote. Paul recently led the
effort on two new papers presenting exoplanet discoveries with Mike Endl's group. He is working to disentangle stellar intrinsic
noise from Doppler signals of compact multi-planetary systems. A valued TA, Paul has also published as lead author on chemical abundances
in cluster galaxies with Greg Shields. He continues study in this area comparing cluster and field spirals, and investigating metallicity
anomolies. Last year, Paul won the Frank N. Edmonds, Jr. Memorial Fellowship in Astronomy.
Hyunbae Park wins 2012 Board of Visitors Graduate Student Second Year Research Defense Award
Hyunbae Park won this year's 2nd year defense award for his project entitled "Kinetic
Sunyaev-Zeldovich Effect on The Cosmic Microwave Background as a Probe of the Reionization
Epoch". This award is given annually in recognition for an outstanding Second Year
defense of research to date.
2012 Departmental Award Winners
The McDonald Observatory and Department of Astronomy's graduate student
awards are chosen by faculty vote.
Mimi Song, JJ Hermes
& Manos Chatzopoulos
The Frank Edmonds Memorial Fellowship
Given to a second or third year student showing
strong promise in research, Mimi was chosen for her work with Dr. Karl
Gebhardt using data from VENGA, to probe star formation in nearby
galaxies, and her current project, using VLT IFU data to study
star formation in high redshift galaxies.
Fred T. Goetting, Jr. Memorial Endowed Presidential Fellowship
The Goetting recognizes outstanding service to the
Department of Astronomy.
The David Alan Benfield Memorial Scholarship in Astronomy
The Benfield recognizes outstanding research by a senior graduate